Indian Ocean Rim Association focuses on taking blue economy forward
Port Victoria, situated in the capital of the Seychelles islands, is one of the busiest tuna fishing ports in the world, where an average of 200,000 metric tonnes of fish are landed and trans-shipped every year. (Gerard Larose/STB)
(Seychelles News Agency) - A recent Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) meeting in Perth, Australia that brought together foreign ministers from twenty member states was looking towards the blue economy model to derive mutual benefit from the Indian Ocean that connects them.
Comprised of 2.3 billion people, IORA member states comprise about 30 percent of the world’s population, has some of the world’s fastest-growing economies and plays host to 100,000 vessels passing through the Indian Ocean every year.
Trade between IORA’s member states was worth almost $1.3 trillion in 2013, and over the past five years regional trade between the member countries has grown at an average of 9.5 percent annually.
For the Seychelles Foreign Affairs Minister, Jean Paul Adam, the entire world’s imminent future is likely to be very much focused on maximising the potential of the world’s oceans; and according to a press statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), the blue economy was indeed the centrepiece of the day’s discussions.
“If the last 100 years was very much about how we could maximise the use of our land, this century is very much about making the most of our ocean,” said Minister Adam in his remarks at the meeting. “The Indian Ocean is at the crest of this wave, and with our leadership and commitment we can bring about this transformative change that we all believe in.”
The minister highlighted the need for the private sector to get more involved in research and new technology to assist IORA countries, particularly small island developing member states, harness the ocean’s vast resources.
The IORA ministers signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on search and rescue cooperation between member states, particularly in light of a spate of recent aviation and maritime tragedies, including the mysterious disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370.
According to MFA, the Seychelles delegation called for greater collaboration on regional maritime security as well as among coastguards, police, prosecutors and the judiciary.
Seychelles also welcomed the accession proposal of Somalia to the association as well as reports that the Maldives and Myanmar were also considering joining the organisation.
|While in Perth the Seychelles Foreign Affairs Minister Jean Paul Adam also held bilateral meetings with the foreign ministers of three other IORA member states: Sri Lanka, Singapore and Thailand. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) Photo License: CC-BY|
Meetings in the margins
During his visit to Perth, Minister Adam also held bilateral meetings with the foreign ministers of three other IORA member states: Sri Lanka, Singapore and Thailand.
The possibility of Singapore helping build capacity in Seychelles’ financial services industry was discussed between Minister Adam and Singapore's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Law, Kasiviswanathan Shanmugam.
Minister Adam also thanked Singapore for the support it has provided through the SIDSTech programme that offers short courses to SIDS countries, and said that Seychelles was looking forward to cooperating with Singapore in the multilateral system towards implementing the SAMOA pathway, the outcome of the recent Third International Conference on SIDS on climate change.
Speaking to the Sri Lankan Minister for External Affairs, Gamini Lakshman Peiris, Minister Adam pointed out the increasing demand from Seychellois companies for Sri Lankan goods since the Sri Lankan national airline, Mihin Lanka, increased the frequency of its flights in September to three flights per week. Professor Peiris lauded the increasing trade and bilateral ties between the two countries as a model for South-South cooperation.
While meeting with the Deputy Foreign Minister of Thailand, Don Pramudwunai, the two ministers agreed to look into the possibility of resuming air services between Thailand and Seychelles and sought ways to further collaborate on education as well as the blue economy.
During his stay in Perth, Minister Adam also joined his fellow IORA ministers on a tour of the University of Western Australia with the Chair of IORA, the Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop. The group visited the university’s Marine Science Department to look at new ways in which IORA member states could build blue economy partnerships with Australia.